Aberdeen FC’s lawyer believes protesters fighting to block the new Dons stadium have come “nowhere close” to providing legal grounds for planning permission to be revoked.
Plans for the £50 million stadium and training facilities at Kingsford were approved by Aberdeen City Council last year, but objectors have called the decision into question during a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Proceedings started on Tuesday with representations on behalf of protest group No Kingsford Stadium and the council.
If the court finds in favour of the No Kingsford Stadium (NKS) group, the planning permission granted last May could be deemed void and the future of the development cast into uncertainty.
James Findlay QC yesterday spoke on behalf of Aberdeen Football Club, which has been listed as an “interested party” in the dispute between the protest group and the local authority.
He argued that the objectors’ legal team failed to establish grounds upon which the court could overturn Aberdeen City Council’s decision to award planning permission.
Mr Findlay said: “It would be a serious step to quash this permission, and it is our submission that the case put forward comes nowhere close to establishing grounds for that.”
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In hearings such as this one, it can typically take about three months for the Court of Session to give its verdict.
But Mr Findlay yesterday took the “unusual” step of asking Lord Tyre to speed up the process, as construction of the ground is already under way and developers are eager to move on to the next phase.
He said: “The club would like to know the outcome of this challenge as soon as possible.”
Lord Tyre asked whether Mr Findlay was suggesting he “get on with it”.
The judge added: “It is somewhat unusual to say ‘hurry up and get a judgement out’, but I should be able to deal with this without any particular delay.”
The judicial review concluded yesterday, ahead of schedule.
NKS argued the local authority’s planning department had breached its own guidelines so badly in recommending councillors rubber-stamp the proposal that the decision was unlawful.
Ailsa Wilson QC represented the group and listed specific concerns regarding a supposed insufficient investigation into the possibility of siting the stadium elsewhere, transport problems and the use of land upon which development had been restricted.
Aberdeen City Council’s legal representative Ruth Crawford QC argued the authority did not disregard the local development plan, a framework engineered to shape projects and inform decisions on planning applications, when recommending elected members approve the scheme.
She said: “It was decided the public benefits of the stadium would outweigh the provisions of the development plan. It is incorrect to say the development plan was not taken into account or considered.
“The development accorded with its general social and economic policies.”